In the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis, brought to the cinema as ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ when the children are told that the ruler of Narnia is a lion, Aslan, they are un-derstandably rather alarmed. “Is he safe? Has he been tamed?” they ask. “No, he is wild and dangerous,” is the reply. “But he is good, very good.”
It could be a perfect description of Jesus and what it was like to be in his company as one of his disciples. Scarcely a comfortable ride. You never quite knew what he was going to say or do next – perhaps Pope Francis reminds us of that a bit. And he was not afraid to upset people, including the rich and powerful, who eventually conspired to have him put to death. To be in his company was to run the risk that you might suffer the same fate, as of course his twelve apostles eventually did, long before the Church settled down to its centuries-long compromise with the world from which we in the West are just emerging.
Yet just as Jesus’ death led to his Resurrection, so the Church has always been at its most effective when it was persecuted, or at least robbed of its comfortable status. Christians who are not afraid to act and speak boldly as Jesus did may be persecuted, but never ridiculed. If we are mocked, it is for not living up to what even the world knows we should be.
As we begin Holy Week, let us pray and hope that we do not just follow Jesus physically by joining in the processions, kissing the Cross and lighting our candles at Easter, but in our hearts; that we may not be afraid to follow someone who is wild, not tame, dangerous at times, not comfortable, someone who is so utterly good that he has our own eternal salvation and that of the whole world as his aim, and is prepared to lay down his life for that. May our celebration this week set our hearts on fire with love for him and for every human being for whom he died.